ANTRIM – Antrim Wind Energy officials confirmed Monday that the Seacoast-based developer helped craft the proposed wind energy ordinance, submitted by petition, that will go before town voters in March.
While the ordinance doesn’t specifically call for the development of a wind farm in the area of Tuttle Hill and Willard Pond, it is seen as a process that will create the right conditions for a project similar to the one that was rejected by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee last year.
When asked who wrote the proposed ordinance, Antrim Wind Energy Project Manager John Soininen said numerous people within the company were involved in creating the document. Last year, the company came under criticism from some residents when it was discovered that the project’s attorney, Susan Geiger, wrote the town’s appeal to the State’s Site Evaluation Committee. Soininen said Monday that Geiger was “not directly involved” with writing the proposed ordinance.
Soininen said Antrim Wind does not have an application yet for a new wind project, though company CEO Jack Kenworthy did tell the Ledger-Transcript in late December that the company is still looking to build a wind farm on the property. Soininen said that Antrim Wind has revised the project but the company does not yet know whether it will request that the project go through the state or through the town. The previous wind project involving 10 wind turbines was rejected by the Site Evaluation Committee due to regional visual impact. He said the revised wind project aims to reduce the visual impact of the equipment.
“[The proposed ordinance] provides reasonable regulations,” Soininen said. “The changes are significant.”
The new petition ordinance would limit wind farm noise to 50 decibels during the daytime, and 45 decibels at night, or 5 decibels above normal ambient sound, whichever is greater. The maximum height of turbines is limited to 500 feet. Proposed setbacks are 2,200 feet from occupied buildings and 1.1 times the turbine height from property lines and 1.5 times the turbine height from public roads. The previously proposed project included turbines that would pass the ordinance’s height requirements.
When asked for more detailed description of the changes to the ordinance, Soininen declined to comment and said it would be difficult to explain the changes made in the 40-page document. Soininen said that residents can read the ordinance verbiage and ask Antrim Wind any questions they have at the public hearing this week.
The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the upstairs of Town Hall. The petitioned warrant article in question would amend Antrim’s Zoning ordinance to allow the construction of commercial wind farms in the town. The petition has 42 signatures.
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